At the tender age of nothing, I was born.
I do not remember doing it, but I imagine it was exciting for the people who were waiting for me. I had big googly baby eyes and I smiled and giggled and moved my chubby fingers around to amuse people.
And now, at the semi-tender age of 21, I will graduate. I will move into an apartment and I will wiggle my chubby fingers around and very few people will laugh, but I will feel confident because I have a Yale education.
Sometimes I feel a close connection to Dustin Hoffman. Whenever I’m standing next to a pool, I have a really strong urge to jump into it and sink to the bottom. Sometimes when I’m standing next to an adult, I imagine them encouraging me to take a job in plastics.
Every time I have encountered an old person (anyone older than I am) in the last couple of weeks, they have asked me the same thing, “What are you doing next year?” It reminds me a lot of the time I was a senior in high school and people would ask me where I was going to college. Though when I used to say “Yale,” people looked a lot happier than they do now when I say, “Fuck you. Leave me alone.” Usually, they give me a puzzled look and then roll their eyes and say, “Good luck with that.” I don’t want to tell them that I’m probably going to spend a lot of next year missing things that I hated about college.
But it’s time to grow up. Let’s be serious, it will be really fun to have a job. Having a job is like having a party, only you’re paid to go to it. And there are lots of fun people in New York City who are waiting for me to get there so they can give me lots of fun opportunities. And I’m tired of spending all my time knowing exactly what’s required of me, who my friends are and where my next meal is coming from. It’s time to carpe diem, I’m a mother-fuckin’ adult.
Graduating from college is no biggie if you’ve ever graduated from high school (hopefully you did). In college, graduation takes about seven months — the graduation weekend feels like it will never end. Your mother and father talk to you incessantly about the people you’re supposed to send thank you notes to. Random relatives (whom you may or may not have ever met) complain about the heat. Your brothers and sisters bicker and poke each other with knives, and the whole time you try to wheedle money out of everyone you know. In high school, it’s like, “bye.” In college, it’s not kosher to spend all your time crying about your friendships, because it’s actually probable that you’ll stay friends. In high school, you spend a lot of time crying, because you realize that you’ll probably grow out of the things you have in common with your friends — like the fact that you both like grilled cheese, or they have a car.
In college, you have the editor of Newsweek speak at your graduation. In high school, the valedictorian stands up and talks about “changing the world” (which really means going to Tufts or something) and then the school band plays Vitamin C’s graduation song (or “Friends Forever”), which is really f-ing sad. Every time I hear the beginning of Pachelbel’s Canon, I’m recycling the lyrics of that song in my head — lyrics like, “But when we leave this year we won’t be coming back / No more hanging out cause we’re on a different track.” I mean, that shit is scary — what track am I on? How come I can’t hang out with my friends anymore? How much running is required on this track?
In high school, you sit on the floor of your best friend’s bedroom, unquestioningly drinking vodka out of a Poland Spring water bottle and making predictions about the future. Predictions like in the Vitamin C song, “Will little brainy Bobby be the stockbroker man / Can Heather find a job that won’t interfere with her tan?” These are important questions. I want Heather to find that job. It would be so good for Bobby if he were a “stockbroker man.”
Ultimately, leaving college will be a piece of cake. I look around me every day and I think about how much we’ve grown — in size, alcohol tolerance and soul. I wake up in the morning and make a mental picture of our campus so I’ll remember what it looks like — sometimes I Photoshop all the construction out of my mental picture and other times I just leave it, because it’s so pretty.
I’ll never be able to let go of Yale — I’ll probably get a letter 364 days out of the year asking me to give money. Like Vitamin C says, guys, “I guess I thought that this would never end / And suddenly it’s like we’re women and men.” We are women and men, guys. Congrats. Way to go.
Your faces are burned into my memory. I still have the scar. I hope you have a great summer. Never change.
Eli Clark is standing in her underwear singing Vitamin C at the top of her lungs into her hairbrush.